"Votes for Women" Menu
13 March 1907.
13 March 1907. First edition. Menu card with deckled edges, on Holborn Restaurant stationery measuring 101 x 165mm. Printed on recto in blue with a menu for a meal in celebration of the release from prison of several key suffrage activists.
The tradition of hosting a meal to celebrate the release of suffrage prisoners from Holloway Prison seems to have begun a year earlier, in December 1906, when the non-militant National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies suffragists and the militant Women's Social and Political Union suffragettes came together for a banquet at the Savoy Hotel. Planned by Millicent Garrett Fawcett of the NUWSS to commemorate the work of Emmeline Pankhurst and women of the WSPU, it was the women's opportunity to mutually agree that "although the work of quiet persuasion and argument created a firm basis...the suffrage campaign had received a great impetus from the courage and self-sacrifice of the suffragette prisoners who had touched the imagination of the country" (Murphy). By 1907, the WSPU had adopted the practice more widely, hosting lunches and dinners at the Criterion, the Gardenia, and the Holborn to celebrate prisoners' release and reward them with a good meal after what was frequently a harrowing period of starvation or force-feeding in Holloway. The present meal, hosted at the Holborn Restaurant's Phoenix Salon, honored "Patricia Woodlock, Olivia Smith, and Mr. Croft" with a private, seven-course lunch (Crawford). Woodlock had already made great contributions to the cause, helping to found the Liverpool WSPU and becoming a regular demonstrator at protests; she would go on to become one of the group's most influential organizers (Mapping Woman Suffrage). Olivia Smith by this point was a fixture at protests, and a year later she would famously chain herself to the railings of the Prime Minister's home at 10 Downing Street. Mr. Croft, a dedicated male ally, served as a "suffrage motion mover," urging in committees and conferences for votes to be called on behalf of women (Trouve-Finding). In celebration of these three, the menu is headed with a quote from Tennyson, a favorite of the movement: "Woman's cause is man's; they rise or sink together, dwarfed or Godlike, bond or free."
Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners, 1905-1914 (London School of Economics). LSE History. Woman and Her Sphere. Fine (Item #2904)